CONCORDIA, Kansas — The Cloud County Community College women's cross country team will have a lot of new faces at the starting line this season as the T-Birds field a team of seven girls, anchored by sophomore returner Sadie Jones.
"The women's roster is pretty unique. We have three girls who haven't ran cross country in the last year or two years since they were in high school. They are brand new to the college scene and the training," said Cloud County head coach, Drew Mahin. "That kind of new, fresh exposure to the sport is going to be fun as a coach to teach them the sport and some new things to get them up to the college level."
Jones is coming off a freshman season that saw her compete as a mid-pack runner as she built up the endurance to run at the collegiate level.
Her fastest time a season ago was 23:19.3 in the 5,000-meter Ollie Isom Invitational. Mahin said the hope for Jones now will be to get into the 20-minute range and be a top-30 runner inside the KJCCC.
"I'm really excited to see how she's developed as a person, leader and runner the past year," said Mahin of Jones. "She was very shy at first last year and just young. She hadn't ran a lot of miles in high school. But right now she's more confident, she's stronger and we should be seeing a different runner so that's going to be fun to watch."
Behind Jones, there will be six new faces to the Cloud County cross country team battling it out for the final four scoring spots.
Sophomore Janne Hamisi, a soccer player for Cloud County last season, and newcomers Reagan Emerson, Tanya Harcum, Shackera Samuels, Rebekah Thomas and Abby White are all anticipated to be contributors.
White, a track standout at Peetz High School in Colorado, is one runner Mahin said has stood out in the first few weeks of practice and is someone who could make waves during the 2018 season, which is set to get underway on August 31 at the Terry Masterson Twilight Classic in Hutchinson.
"Abby has been one of the biggest bright spots in the few practices we've had," Mahin said. "I think she's going to surprise herself and surprise a lot of people since she's never done cross country before. I think she's really going to develop well. She's been the most consistent and most surprising runner in the practices we've had."
If the T-Birds can remain healthy and receive contributions from their newcomers, they are hoping they can carve out a spot in the top-half of the KJCCC West standings come Region VI/KJCCC Championship time on October 27 down in Winfield, KS.
"We want to establish ourselves as a top-half of the conference team," Mahin said. "The way the Region is constructed, there are some really tough teams at the top and some teams that just don't have the numbers. We should be in the top-half and that'd be a real successful year for the girls."
Cloud County will open up the 2018 season at 8:30 p.m. Friday, August 31st in Hutchinson at the Terry Masterson Twilight Classic.